Sunday, April 22, 2018

Homily: Racism and Vocations

Most of you have seen DePauw in the news this week for incidents of racism. Just wanted to say here at the beginning that I’ve been REALLY proud of our Catholic students in standing in solidarity with all those who are suffering, and also working to try to be a light of hope to the campus.

Some in the past week, even some writing from a Christian perspective, have sought to minimize or even explain away the incidents themselves.

Two things about that. First of all, I minister at Putnamville prison a few miles from here. A few months ago, I attended an annual training night for all those who volunteer there at the prison. They went through all the gangs in the prison so we’d know what to watch out for. They went through the Mexican gangs, the black gangs, etc. but what blew me away was that while there were 5 or 6 of each of those gangs, there were close to TWENTY white supremacist gangs. Racism is still alive and well.

Archbishop Thompson wrote a letter a few months ago on a lot of issues facing our Archdiocese, including RACISM

At the heart of these issues (racism, drug use, abortion, immigration, gun violence, religious liberty, euthanasia) Archbishop pointed to HUMAN DIGNITY!

Archbishop notes: “We are one in Christ. This is not a metaphor.”

How true! So often we think “oh, one in Christ, that’s nice, we could make it a song title or we think “what a lovely image” but Archbishop Thompson makes it clear – this is NOT a metaphor. This is NOT poetry. We are to be ONE.

That’s also what we hear in the Gospel today. ONE flock.

Archbishop goes on: “It is a fundamental truth…This fundamental belief, which we accept as a fact, dramatically influences the way we are called to live our lives. We do not merely exist for ourselves and our own kind.”

It DOES dramatically influence the way we live our lives. If you think about it, this was precisely one of the key RADICAL notions that the Christian Church proposed to the world. Show me a culture, prior to Jesus Christ, that taught that every human person had dignity! You can’t! It didn’t exist. In every culture before Christ there were SOME people who had dignity, but then there was a group of the population that was “trash” that was disposable, they could be slaves or they could be killed or treated harshly because they were LESS human. The early Church, in bringing the Gospel to the various cultures and continents taught precisely this new idea, that, according to Jesus Christ’s teachings and the teachings of His Church that he left behind on Earth, EVERY person has dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God!

We have proof of this in our second reading. We hear Saint John: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” He’s saying “WOW! This is so amazing!

Finally, to conclude with the Archbishop’s excerpts, I’d like to finish with this line: “The Catholic Church opposes racism, sexism, nativism and all forms of prejudice against people who are perceived to be different from us, including strangers and enemies.”

There’s the great warning of Christ: SATAN DESIRES TO SIFT YOU LIKE WHEAT! He desires to breakdown relationships, marriages, families, universities, parishes, communities, states, countries, etc. He is an agent of DISunity. Whereas Christ says today that He is an agent of unity. “ONE flock. ONE shepherd!”

Turning for a moment to the teaching of the universal Church, The Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching, 144: since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness[281]. The Incarnation of the Son of God shows the equality of all people with regard to dignity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. Rom 10:12; 1 Cor 12:13, Col 3:11).
Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other men[282]. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class.

Compendium 431: For those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division

431 continued: From the day of Pentecost, when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language, the Church fulfills her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Through the Church, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences!

Let me state this clearly: “If you harbor racist beliefs or outlooks, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not taken root in you yet”

Look at that prayer card – you know why it is so powerful and speaks a thousand words – because of the collar – because of the visible representation of the Presence of the Church

Is the Church present in those who don’t wear a collar or habit? OF COURSE!!!!
Can we work for unity without a collar or habit? OF COURSE!!!!
But we need people who are willing to be VISIBLE signs of the Church BEING the glue, VISIBLE signs

Precisely in the fact that celibacy is a sign that we are all heading for an eternal home not of this world, religious and priestly vocations are also, at the same time, able to GIVE THEMSELVES COMPLETELY to THIS world to help work for that unity full time!

One thing I didn’t know until I became a priest – people stare at you a lot when you wear the Roman collar. I’ve become somewhat more used to it, but it is still startling
1) I see fascination/surprise
2) I see hope too – something that instantly seems to get them thinking about eternal things

In a world that so often looks for VISIBLE things to be divided over – skin color, race, clothing, wealth, - a GREAT way to fight back against that is to be a VISIBLE sign of UNITY

G.K. Chesterton said “Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.”
If you want to convert our culture, help pray for, encourage, and foster young men and women who will come forward to contradict the culture of division and disunity

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